Romance writer Chloe Thurlow

Literary romance

Anais Nin Ruined My Life

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anais Nin.

Those few words by Anais Nin anais nin veiledhit me like a revelation at university and I decided that from that moment on I would say yes when I should have said no, and no when I should have said yes. I made a vow to become more courageous and closed the door on my stifling world of private schools, sameness and security. 

I was led to Madame Nin by my tutor, a tall dark Heathcliff lookalike. He gave me a copy of A Spy in the House of Love, seducing my mind before inviting me a week later to a French brasserie. He poured glass after glass of Beaujolais nouveau, the new crop had just arrived that October, and then took me back to his rooms to gaze at the moon through the old leaded glass windows.

“The time had come when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Again I quote Ms Nin. In the moon’s silvery glow I became Sabina, the young bohemian I had breathlessly devoured through the pages of A Spy in the House of Love, the character disdaining all commitments to dedicate her life to the pursuit of pleasure.

Sabina adores sex with all its mystifying portals and potentials. She has a weakness for picking up strangers in the night clubs of New York in the 1950s, a precarious game I found myself replaying half a century later in the champagne bars of London’s Soho. Anais Nin had become my heroine, avatar, the dark shadow that crosses the room while the night planes follow the Thames into Heathrow and I stare at the words on my laptop wondering if I can make them better; whether, as Oscar Wilde put it, to take a comma out or put it back in again.

Anais Nin Feminist

Anais Nin understood erotica. She wrote it beautifully, a stream of novels, essays, short stories and journals. She was an early feminist. For her, sex was therapeutic; submission, in an erotic sense, the crucible of pleasure and pleasure the path to equanimity and equality.

Her female characters drove her stories as if from the reins of a chariot and she explored her own inner life through the lives of her characters. Life, she said, is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

Born in 1903, Anais was given the extravagant name Angela Anais Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell. Her parents were Spanish-Cuban, intellectuals well-known on the European social scene. She grew up in Neuilly, France, lived in Spain, Cuba and then the United States. She had affairs with John Steinbeck, Gore Vidal, Lawrence Durrell and, most famously, Henry Miller.

She was shown as having a lesbian relationship with Miller’s wife June in the Philip Kaufman movie Henry & June, although it was never known for certain whether she was truly attracted to women as she was to men. Her novel House of Incest, describes her stormy, sexual relationship with her father. She died in 1977 and her books remain as fresh as if the ink only dried on the page at sunrise this morning

Anais Nin ruined my life? It is quite a claim, a pardonable pinch of hyperbole. What Anais Nin did was open the door on a tall mountain, the peak hidden in the clouds, and through her words impelled me to climb the slippery moist slopes of erotica. I came to see that few things are more important than sexual relationships, it’s how we continue the species, and to write the erotic is an endless cycle of putting commas in and taking them out in a quest for unreachable perfection.

9 Discussions on
“Anais Nin Ruined My Life”
  • Once upon a time, primordial time that is, Eve (naked) went to Adam (naked) and said, “Have a bite of this.” And she handed him a fruit. It wasn’t an apple (don’t believe Da Vinci), and it wasn’t a banana (don’t believe Jenna Jameson)—it was a mango (believe you me). And a very ripe one; bursting with juices. Adam took a bite. The juices gushed out of the mango. Eve giggled. Adam licked his fingers. Eve licked his lips. And the rest is history—human history that is. Moses heard the story some years later and wrote it down. The rabbis after him stuck the story at the head of the Torah. Some monk translated the whole thing in Latin and called it Genesis. He got the title right, that’s for damn sure. Then another monk came, his name was Augustine (a sex addict according to his own journal) and said, “No, no, no. You guys got it all wrong. That story is a huge allegory. I shall decoded it for all of you dumbasses out there.” He cleared up his throat and continued. “Hear you people the interpretation of it: the Snake came and had sex with Eve, disgusting intercourse that is: he stuck his tail in her virginal girly thing. Then Eve went to Adam, and said, Lemme tell you, honey, how good being bad is. And he showed him how to do what the snake did. So out the window went Adam’s innocence, too. Forever. And thus sex ruined an entire human race. Amen,” said Augustine. Europe bought into his interpretation. The Church said, “Now all things make sense. Stay away from that thing, or the snake will come after ya!” Two thousand years later, it’s burned into the collective subconscious of countless human beings. DNA is destiny, baby. But here comes, Chloe Thurlow, fearless and talented, a girl with an agenda: she wants to tell us all that eating the MANGO is what we’re made for; that’s OK to get naked, sticky, and smelly. We wish her good luck…

  • Having read your collection of works, I believe Anais Nin and your tutor merely freed your mind allowing you to find your true self.
    Your calling is clearly to be a writer of erotica and you are amazing at it!

  • Anais Nin did not ruin your life. She merely showed you how to give yourself permission to start living it properly – how to move backwards and forwards through the states drawing from each in turn as your needs changed. Through your writings we are educated as to what we could achieve if we gave ourselves the same permission. Educated might be wrong – lead might be better as this suggests that we keep returning to you for more rather than absorbing the given knowledge to allow us to do the same for ourselves.
    It’s Autumn and you’re late!

  • You chose freedom and for you that was clearly the right choice. You have rid yourself of all those things that hold women back and what you produce in your writing will help other women gain the freedom you have won.

  • It seems to me, Anais Nin didn’t ruin your life, she enriched it, she persuaded you to write and, in writing, you have clearly found yourself. Everything else comes from that dark side of yourself you call Black Dwarf, which I have also commented on.

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